The Intersection Of Audience-Buying And Content

A recent Madison & Wall report from Pivotal Research’s Brian Wieser spells out “why ad tech matters to media,” and one of the more important points, in my opinion, is what ad tech has enabled media buyers to do: buy audiences.

“[T]he shift of emphasis away from buying on context (a model which drove the early success of portals and top-tier vertical sites on the Web) towards buying on audiences wherever they might be found makes advertisers and their agencies increasingly indifferent towards specific content,” Wieser writes in his report.

MediaPost Editor in Chief Joe Mandese calls today the “Golden Age of audience data,” something that’s impacting even the way TV upfronts are approached. And Wieser’s note that a focus on audience is making buyers “indifferent” toward content-based buying is significant, even if only because it's in stark contrast to what I was told just week ago by a large DSP -- that buyers are not ignoring context when running audience-based campaigns.

However, it does seem to be the general conclusion (among the pro-programmatic crowd, at least) that even if specific content still matters today, that’s only because it’s a lingering old school tactic that will soon give way to the power of audience; that specific content may always matter, but that there’s little doubt it will slide down the totem pole.

That sentiment may not be true across the board, however, even for the publishers faced with the greatest change. In fact, those “traditional” media owners may be in better shape than digital media owners because their legacy models are proven. So rather than being apocalyptic, there’s a crossroads approaching where media brands and their content intersect with buy-side brands and the audiences they want to reach.

“‘Traditional’ media owners are reasonably well-positioned to selectively determine which inventory they want to trade in an automated fashion and should be net beneficiaries,” Wieser notes, pointing out that “the notion that ads are more valuable when they are associated with a media brand … still holds.”

Some of the trading methods that tech and datamongers are trying to jettison seem to have been grandfathered in. That’s one of the reasons private marketplaces are a budding trend -- if not fully fledged. It’s also why “premium” is a publisher’s favorite prefix.

"Intersection" image via Shutterstock.

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1 comment about "The Intersection Of Audience-Buying And Content".
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , August 4, 2014 at 5:38 p.m.
    When computerized "media selection" models were introduced in the 1960s, they, too, were "audience" driven, in the sense that the computers went after target group "eyeballs" relative to ad rates without regard for context, editorial environment and other "qualitative" factors. The resulting "media plans" were so absurd that advertisers first tried building in subjective fudge factors to weed out media they didn't want and finally rejected these systems altogether as not worth the bother. It seems that history is----or may be----repeated today as programmatic pushes for access to "premium" media "inventory"----in other words----TV. Yes, there are some advertisers who will buy time in virtually any show based on CPMs, but most will not. While they may not be able to precisely quantify the value of context, environment, engagement, merchandising, prestige, etc. such factors are built into the advertising cultures of many product classes and services. CPM-driven "audience buying", which has always been with us in one form or another, is not going to change that unless it can be shown to deliver significantly better ad awareness, impact and sales results, not just theoretical benefits.